COVID-19 Teacher Vaccination Policy - Seven Key Considerations

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to a school leader about their onboarding processes and the associated safeguarding records. As part of our conversation, I asked how they were planning to track vaccination rates at their school. She responded;

I am looking forward to the day that the tracking of the COVID vaccine is the problem we need to solve.

She’s right of course - the problem we face right now is one of access. Globally, accessing peer-reviewed vaccines is a privilege accessible only to wealthy countries as we witness the decidedly ugly rise of vaccine nationalism. Wherever international schools find themselves, over the coming months we expect (and hope) that vaccination tracking rather than access will be a challenge to tackle. In anticipation of that, schools are developing vaccination policies for staff at their schools.

As straightforward as many think a vaccination effort in schools should be, there are seven key considerations for policy development on staff vaccination - especially when dealing with a multinational workforce.

1. Will the COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory at your school? What does the legislation say?

In addition to the public health policy/legislation of a school’s host country, school leaders will also be taking direction from their staff’s home countries. In the US, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance that clearly indicated that employers can mandate vaccinations in workplaces, whereas UK legislation indicates that British schools are unlikely to mandate vaccination.

2. What policies are currently in place that may affect vaccination efforts?

There may be collective bargaining agreements in place with provisions relevant to vaccination efforts. Be sure to review both collective agreements and individual contracts.

3. Who will be included in your vaccination effort?

Who should be required or strongly encouraged to be vaccinated? If you require the vaccination of teachers, what about the non-teaching staff? Do you have reasons to justify vaccinating some staff over others?

4. If you mandate, how will you handle employee requests for exemptions?

You may not be able to require everyone to get vaccinated. There are various types of exemptions that will be raised by staff members. How will you handle each?

  • Religious. Take the time to review positioning statements from faiths on the COVID vaccines to familiarise yourself with potential objections.

  • Disability. As with all vaccinations, there will be a small subset of individuals who are known to be susceptible to the COVID-19 vaccinations, ie; allergic responses. Will you require proof? Does legislation permit you to request proof?

  • Other. Some employees may also claim an exemption for reasons that are not protected by law but that you may need to consider, such as fear, or political / ideological belief.

5. How will you educate and communicate with your school community about vaccinations?

The global community has tied its collective hopes to the prospect of effective vaccination to end the pandemic. Although it has done so before with the likes of polio, small-pox, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and Hepatitis A&B - there is a degree of vaccination hesitancy from teachers. How will you provide educational campaigns to encourage, nudge, or even incentivize compliance?

6. What will be your school's vaccination process?

How will your employees notify the school that they received their vaccination? How will employees claim exemptions? What information will you request and in what form? Who will handle these requests? What criteria will they apply? How will you follow up with reminders?

7. Tracking and Compliance: How will you track your school community's vaccinations?

International schools often herald the global diversity of their faculty. When it comes to proving vaccination, however, this diversity can create challenges. Staff will be arriving from multiple countries this year with various types of proof, of various vaccines, at different stages in their vaccination schedule.

Without a global vaccination authority, schools are burdened with collecting this highly sensitive medical information, verifying required doses have been received, and assessing submitted proof of vaccination of multiple vaccines from numerous health authorities.

Vaccination records are considered medical records and like other highly sensitive documents - passports, criminal record checks - should not be emailed.

SkoolSpot's COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker delivers needed data insights to enhance school safety and secure the confidence of the community. Our secure platform allows teachers to safely upload medical documentation for review and approval by school administrators. A dashboard summarizes vaccination progress details for governance, risk, and compliance efforts.

Current SkoolSpot members will see the Vaccination Tracker as part of the Safeguarding Record / Single Central Record that provides schools with a centralized record of critical safeguarding documentation; passport, criminal record checks, references, licensure, medical checks, and other documents as required.

Request a demo of the COVID-19 vaccine tracker today!

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